Audi has introduced the A3 Sportback g-tron, which primarily runs on CO2 neutral natural gas with a gasoline backup.
This is no conventional natural gas vehicle. Audi has patented a revolutionary CNG driving system, which runs on a synthetic gas called “e-gas.” According to Audi, this methane-based gas is “completely CO2 neutral.”
Two tanks rest underneath the Audi A3 g-tron trunk floor – one for natural gas and one for regular gasoline. The CNG tank is insulated with a series of layers. The inner layer is made of a gas-impermeable polyamide polymer, while a second layer of incredibly strong carbon fiber-reinforced polymer. Finally, a glass fiber reinforced polymer reinforces the third layer of the tank.
An electronic gas pressure regulator reduces the high pressure of the gas moving through the cylinders. If the pressure drops dramatically, the vehicle’s engine management system automatically switches to gasoline power. Under a single gas door of the A3, there are two filler necks for each tank
The Audi A3 g-tron is estimated to provide a range of almost 250 miles on natural gas alone, and another 560 miles with combined gasoline usage. Inside, the A3 Sportback g-tron dashboard houses two displays, which provide fuel level information and fuel consumption each of the tanks.
In typical Audi style, the A3 Sportback g-tron isn’t lacking in power. While down in some horsepower compared to its gasoline cousin, the engine, based on the 1.4-liter TFSI, is estimated to provide 110 hp. The A3 goes from 0-60 mph in 11 seconds with a top speed of about 120 mph.
The A3 lineup will include sedans, 3-5 door hatchbacks, a convertible, and performance models called the S3 and RS3. While the CNG vehicle won’t be available in all areas, Audi hopes to have the vehicle ready for sale at the end of 2013.
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